Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Makin fun of stupid

This shit has gotten all touchy lately so I think it's about time to bring back some laughs at other people's expense. Sound good? It's an easy subject but one thats come up a bit lately in the news. The Anti-Vaccine crowd, or Pro-Measles if you prefer, is getting slammed pretty hard by the reality based world. If it wasn't for the dead kids this would be even funnier, and I include the few who have already died from stupid parents and the many more who will. If you want a couple of really good rants from people who really know what they are talking about go here. And here for an older one. That second one really rips into Jenny McCarthy and some of her past craziness. I'm probably being rude, but I guess I've never felt the need to speak softly when ignorance leads directly to the death of innocent people.

I'm not a doctor but I've been following this for a little while now because it came up at work. Someone heard that vaccines were linked to autism, could I find out if its true. So I did a bit of research on the web, and asked a few coworkers about it and quickly found out that people thought vaccines might be linked to autism because there was mercury in the vaccines (I think it was used as a preservative) and the shots are at about the same time that autism can be diagnosed. So some parents came up with a reasonable hypothesis, so far so good. They made a big stink got the mercury removed from vaccines and researchers tested the hypothesis, again so far so good. This is the scientific method in action. And soon the hypothesis was disproved, repeatedly. The one outlier that showed a link has been discredited. So the scientific method keeps rolling, we've ruled out that, now lets come up with a new hypothesis... wait why are all these parents still talking about vaccines? And here's where it all breaks down. In a better world these parents would look at the evidence and say, ok that wasn't it, but we did get mercury taken out of vaccines and thats gotta be a good thing. Now lets take all this energy we have organized and look for a new hypothesis. Lets solve this problem! Unfortunately back on this world the cause became organized around stopping vaccines and not around finding the cause and maybe the cure for autism. This sucks not only because children are now dying from totally preventable diseases but because it means all this energy money and good will is being wasted on a disproved hypothesis instead of trying to find a solution.

This is also a perfect example of why we need to stress science in school and not just as a subject with some boring information to memorize but as a way of looking at the world. Its how we solve problems. Or in the words of XKCD "Science, it works bitches."

6 comments:

SG said...

I have not done alot of research about autism and vaccines but I have had a few friends concerned about [because they have chillins]. From what I've read another problem with the vaccines is the multiple vaccine shots, so multiple vaccines in one simple shot. From what I know this gets linked to autism because it overloads the babies system and 'causes' autism.
Than again I know very little on the subject so that's just what i've read.

Kilgore Trout said...

It's an understandable concern which is why it's been researched and no the MMR (measles mumps rubella) is in no way linked to Autism.

A study was recently released about this and thats why it's been in the News lately. Something is causing the rise in Autism but its not vaccines. I'm really not sure what more can be done to convince people that vaccines safe lives. Sadly I think it's going to take a reminder in the form of a deadly endemic. Children are already dying from this anti-vaccination movement.

Like I said, I can understand the concern. They came up with a sensible hypothesis, but it wasn't correct and if they want to help find the cause for Autism then they need to look somewhere else, I'd start with petrochemicals and pharmaceuticals in our diets myself. So long as the focus on vaccines they aren't helping to find the cause of autism and they are directly leading to a completely preventable out break of terrible diseases. Again, children are going to die, it's already happening. I don't mean to sound alarmist but thats the situation.

SG said...

Well if they are going to look into it pharmaceutically [sp?] They are going to have to look into our water! Wasn't there a big stink about medicines being in our water, and than us drinking it?

Kilgore Trout said...

Yeah. Although for some reason I remember them being more concerned with the fish in the water and stuff. I know the issue was that our waste treatment plants can't remove the drugs from our shit. But maybe the systems for our drinking water can and thats why they aren't concerned about us directly.

It's also been a while since I've looked into this and I could just plain be wrong. The petrochemicals you already know about the problems with those in our, er my diet. Less of a problem in yours.

SG said...

Hm well if they can remove the drugs from our drinking water than they should be able to remove it from the sewage...just because everything that ends up in the earth ends up in us..

Kilgore Trout said...

I could be wrong but I don't think it's an issue of us not having the technology to do remove the drugs from the water, more that our current system can't. I'm sure it would be very expensive to upgrade our sewer treatment plants to the same level as our drinking water. We still rely pretty heavily on ol' mother nature to clean up a lot of our messes. But you are right that something needs to be done. I just don't know how soon it will happen. Like a lot of things we probably won't take it seriously until its a crisis, hopefully we still have time by then.